£20 million research hub could help African teens achieve their full potential

Teen Advisory Group Sierra Leone

Teen Advisory Group Sierra Leone

Photo by Inge Wessels

A long-term initiative championed by the UK Research and Innovation Council (UKRI) could significantly improve the health and life prospects of a generation of Africa’s youth. The Oxford University-led project is one of 12 individual studies taking place as part of the new UKRI Global Research Hubs. The work is financially supported through the Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF), which has allocated nearly £200 million investment to the initiative - the largest single investment ever by UKRI. The GCRF funding pot is a key strand of the UK’s AID strategy, helping to put British research at the heart of efforts to tackle the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Researchers from Oxford’s departments of Social Policy and Intervention, Tropical Medicine, the Blavatnik School of Government, English, Economics and Psychiatry will work alongside international partners including UNDP, UNICEF and the World Health Organisation, governments across Africa, donors such as the Global Fund and PEPFAR, NGOs and young people themselves, to identify and test a range of ‘accelerator synergy’ service combinations, from across health, education, social and economic sectors. In doing so, they will determine which combinations, such as malaria prevention, business skills and violence prevention, offer teenagers across Africa the best opportunities to lead better, safer lives.

Elleke Boehmer (English) commented that she is "excited to be the humanities lead within this interdisciplinary team, and will develop a strand that will explore how creative thinking and ideas of narrative and story-telling are fundamentally important for social cohesion and learning."

Over the next five years the UKRI Global Research Hubs will work with governments, international agencies, NGOs and community groups within  the developing world. These regions include the African continent, South America, South-East Asia and the Caribbean, where they will work to tackle and provide creative and sustainable solutions to each region’s specific societal problems.

The Hubs will focus on some of the world’s greatest challenges from improving human health and promoting gender equality and social justice to fortifying ecological systems and biodiversity on land and sea. Other project themes include generating agricultural sustainability and fostering greater resilience to natural disasters. The overall goal of this work is to make the world safer, healthier and more prosperous.